Indians, Pioneers and Bradford City

Utes, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes

The land along the Hogback was a shared land, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples of the plains and the Utes of the mountains. Chief Left Hand (Niwot) of the southern Arapahoes was known to roam the area, although he preferred the Boulder Valley. The Utes seemed to feel a special affinity for the Valley. They traveled and lived for a long time throughout the Morrison area to the north of the Valley. They had a trail that passed through the Ranch, a section of which the Bradford Road followed.

Chief Colorow

Chief Colorow

Colorow, 6’5” tall and estimated to weigh up to 300 pounds, was often seen in this area. He was born a Comanche about 1810 and captured by the Utes as a boy. He became a leader of his adopted people. He despised individual miners and trappers and especially the settlers who were invading his land, so Colorow and his men retreated to the mountains and the red rocks of the Front Range. Despite their anger at the settlers, they made almost daily rounds of the settlers demanding food, clothing and anything else to which they took a fancy. One particularly notable fancy was biscuits, thick with syrup, which Colorow would eat as fast and as long as a ranch wife could bake them.

In a reminiscence written for the Colorado State Historical Society, Dora I. Foster tells of visiting her aunt in Bradford City and of the day the Indians appeared. Dora and her aunt made biscuits as fast as they were able, but since they did not want the Indians to find their store of flour in the pantry, brought out only enough at one time for a batch or two. Finally the aunt, tiring of the game, told the Indians she had no more flour. The Indians, thereupon, brought forth more flour wrapped in greasy skin pouches and bits of dirty rags. The baking continued.

After the Meeker Massacre in 1879 the Utes were sent to the Uintah Indian Reservation on the Colorado-Utah border. Colorow was one of the last to leave and promised to return. Every winter for seven years he returned to his Shining Mountains for the traditional winter hunt. He himself was quarry for the government men, but he eluded them until 1887 when he was wounded in a skirmish near Rangely, later called “Colorow’s War.” He returned to his camp at the mouth of the White River near the Uintah Reservation, where he died in 1888.

A cave north of Ken-Caryl on Colorow Road in Willowbrook was one of his favorite places and it is still known by his name.

The First Generation of Settlement

The Bradford Road and Bradford City
Dreamers, schemers, bandits and bankrupts from the 1857 depression joined the gold rush to the Rockies in 1859. The more visionary of them platted towns, the more mercenary built saloons, and some cut down the cottonwoods to build log cabins.



It seemed clear to at least one man, Major Robert B. Bradford from Lexington, Missouri, that the area would become the hub of commerce for the Blue River mining district. In September 1859 the firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell, freighters and merchandisers, sent Bradford, a full partner in the firm, to Denver to establish a store that would be stocked by the wagon trains of the main firm. With W.H. Middaugh, Bradford set out to build a toll road to accommodate the miners from Denver to the mines. He was issued a charter by Jefferson Territory for the Denver, Bradford and Blue River Road Company.

The Bradford Road opened for business as early as February 1860, and was advertised as “Ho for the Blue.” The road began at Auraria and traveled along the east side of the South Platte River for nine miles where it then crossed Brown’s Toll Bridge, in which Bradford owned shares. The road then turned southwest to the Hogback, through a cut and thence to the town of Bradford City.

On October 11, 1861, Bradford and Middaugh were granted a charter for 20 years for the company known as The Denver, Auraria and South Park Wagon Road Company and advertised as The Bradford & Colorado Wagon Road. The Bradford Road operated successfully for seven years to Fairplay, Oro City (Leadville), Tarryall and Breckenridge, Colorado. It was abandoned when the Turkey Creek Canyon Road opened in 1867.

In January 1860, a wagon road survey report states, “At the canyon in the foothills is a most beautiful site for a town, which is already occupied for that purpose by a company embracing many of our best businessmen in Denver and Auraria. The name of the new town is Bradford City, which, when it shall become known and its great natural advantages appear, will become an important rival to the towns and cities along the foot of the mountains.” Later that year, William N. Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News, reported that, “Two cabins – one of logs, the other of stone- we found finished and inhabited.” He also observed several piles of lumber and hewn timber, indicating the sites of contemplated buildings.

According to the Homestead Act application of December 9, 1870, Bradford’s improvements included:

A stone house thereon, 24 by 30 feet, 2 stories high and an El 20 by 40 feet, 1½ stories high – board floor and a shingle roof, with 12 doors, and 17 windows and has built a stable, corn cribs, smokehouse, milk house, hen house, and blacksmith shop – has dug 2 cellars – 2 wells and had enclosed 120 acres of said land with post fence and board fence – has set over 40 apple and peach trees.

Some of the apple trees are still productive today. They are the Heirloom series, Ben Davis variety. The front addition to the stone cabin was finished in 1872. Bradford lived out his life on the ranch and died on December 30, 1876. He was survived by his third wife, Fanny, and one married daughter, Mattie. His wife mortgaged the property and in November, 1881, a sale of the property was advertised in the Rocky Mountain News.

Dreams do not always come true, as Bradford discovered. An editorial correspondent for the Western Mountaineer, published at Golden City, once lamented, “Bradford, fourteen miles out, is a city of one house, which stands solitary and bereaved, a monument to those enthusiastic gentlemen who predicted a few months ago that the town, like the rod of Aaron, would swallow up all its fellows.”

Frank Mann and The Falcon House
Joel Phelps Mann arrived in Central City in 1859, where he was a partner in a quartz mill for ore processing. In 1871 he proved up his 160-acre homestead on Deer Creek. In 1882 his son, Frank Independence Mann, purchased about 134 acres adjacent to his father’s property. Over the years Frank purchased and homesteaded additional acreage, took over his father’s homestead, and managed even more land for his nephew. All this was in what we now call the South Valley. Frank built the beautiful Falcon House, overlooking the birds’ nests high in the red rocks. Although Frank remained a confirmed bachelor, he was very close to his eldest sister, Esther Wilder, and took in her family when she was widowed.

Mann Reservoir, visible from South Valley Road and part of South Valley Open Space Park, was named for Frank Mann. During the mid-1930s the Falcon House was inhabited by a family whose father was a ranch hand on the Ken-Caryl Ranch. At that time, the children in the family walked to school in Waterton. After Martin Marietta purchased the property in 1987 Falcon House was razed because of the legal liabilities posed by the condition of the house and problems with vandalism, despite local efforts to save the house.

Other Pioneer Settlers
Bradford City was a Civil War recruitment site, and after the war a few veterans settled down in the Valley along with their families. Many other families settled along the Hogback region in the nineteenth century on plots generally between 40 to 160 acres. A few were homesteaders, proving up their land over the course of five years before gaining title. Others paid cash outright for their land. With the exception of a few small parcels at the crest of the Dakota Hogback and sections of railroad grant and school grant lands, all of the land in Ken-Caryl was claimed by 1900.

Early 20th Century Ranching

The Perleys
James Adams Perley, born in 1835 in Vermont, emigrated west and became a miner in Blackhawk, Colorado. There he met his future wife, Charlotte Virden, who he married in 1864. Perley purchased the Bradford Ranch in 1895, where they raised steers for slaughter and milk cows. Some of their six children (Warren, Emma, Eliza, Martha, Lydia, and James Henry) also lived with them at various times.

Perley Relatives

Perley Relatives

James Henry and his wife, Ida Leota Tuttle, lived with the elder Perleys and raised their four children, George, Charlotte, Josephine, and Jim, on the ranch. The children went to school in a one room school house called Mountview, located five miles east of the Hogback. They often rode horseback or walked to school.

There were good times with evening parties with neighbors, picnics and rowing on the small, shallow, lake that existed to the east of the house at that time. Life on the farm was not easy and the children worked hard. Many chores were unpleasant, like cleaning lice out of the chicken house. The farm provided most of their needs, but the family occasionally went to the store in Littleton. Ice was hauled from Soda Lakes at Morrison and kept in the ice house.

James Adams worked in the garden to provide food for both families, even after he was too crippled to help with the ranching. In 1920 James Adams and his wife moved to Golden. James Adams died in 1926, and Charlotte in 1931. They are buried in the Golden Cemetery.

James Henry continued living on the ranch until it was sold to John Shaffer in 1926 for $1,000. He was killed in an accident in 1934 and Ida died in 1950. They are also buried in the Golden Cemetery. The Perleys were the last residents of the house. Over the ensuing years it gradually fell into ruin. In 1967 a devastating fire destroyed the interior of the Bradford-Perley House.

The house was listed as a State historic site in 1997 and was designated as “one of the Most Endangered Sites in Colorado” in 2002. Ken-Cary Ranch residents undertook preservation of the ruins. The architects were Hoehn Architects and Stone Mason, Building Restoration Specialties. The engineers were Atkinson Noland & Co. Colorado Historical Fund, Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association, Ken-Caryl Ranch Foundation, The Holmes Foundation, and the Gates Foundation provided grants. Individual donations also contributed to the effort. The preservation project earned the Stephen H. Hart Award for excellence in preservation in 2004, and in 2006, the house was declared “saved.” The Bradford-Perley House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2015.

The Shearns
About 1905 John and Bettie Shearn of Texas purchased the 640 acres of former railroad-grant land on the east side of the Hogback and additional acreage on the west side of the Hogback, incorporating as Mountain View Stock Farm. They built a summer home along Massey Draw in the Valley, which was later known as Carroll’s House.

Ken-Caryl Ranch